Boom results in calls
FARMINGTON - A loud, rumbling noise followed by a big boom at about 4:30 p.m. yesterday was enough to prompt several area residents to call the cops.
The noise and explosive-sounding boom, or sonic boom, that shook windows Thursday afternoon was caused by "jets flying around," explained one dispatcher. A sonic boom occurs when an aircraft, moving faster than sound or at about 750 miles per hour at sea level, generates enough air pressure waves to form shock waves that produce, like thunder, an explosion.
The Franklin County Dispatch Center reported calls coming in that asked what the noise was all about. Bonnie Pomeroy at the Farmington Police Department said eight to 10 calls were received within three minutes of the big boom.
"People from all over town were calling," she said. Most had no idea what the boom was, while some callers asked if something in town had blown up.
Col. Donald McCormack at the Maine Air National Guard in Augusta said he hadn't received complaints about the jet noise and didn't know if training flights were going on at the time of the boom.
One caller asked Pomeroy if the Air National Guard's proposal to lower the altitude for military jet training flights over much of western Maine had already been approved by the Federal Aviation Administration.
On Saturday, a four-hour public hearing was held at the University of Maine at Farmington on the proposal to modify the military operation areas known as Condor 1 and Condor 2, so jet pilots can train 500 feet off the ground. Currently, ANG pilots must stay above 7,000 feet throughout the area, unless they're training in designated one-way corridors or military training routes which now cover 53 percent of the training area.
With the proposal, known as the Environmental Impact Study, still in its draft stage and perhaps six months from moving from draft to final version, McCormack said the jet pilots currently training are not allowed to stray from the designated lower flight training corridors, which have been in place for 30 years.
A phone message left at the Air National Guard that asks about the boom over the Farmington area yesterday has not been returned as of yet.
Anyone wishing to issue a noise complaint can call the Eastern Air Defense Sector at 1-800-223-5612. After the recorded menu message, press 3 to get to the noise complaint hotline.
To find out more about the public hearing and details of the proposal, read about it here.